Artists' Opportunities Guide: Open Exhibitions and Prizes

PLEASE NOTE: These organisations are not connected to the Royal Drawing School so please take the time to research any opportunity carefully before investing your time and money in applying. For example, it can be helpful to look at which artists have been selected in the past, who sits on any judging panel, and to visit the relevant exhibition.

Feedback is welcome - 

Open Exhibitions and Prizes Listings

Art Quest
Many opportunities for visual artists

Listings of artist opportunities

The Mall Galleries, London, host various open-submission exhibitions.

Parker Harris organise various open-submission exhibitions.

Art Deadlines List
US competition deadlines

Art Rabbit
UK and international artists' opportunities

Bloomberg New Contemporaries
Deadline: Sunday 8 February 2015, 6pm

A high-profile annual exhibition for new and recent fine art graduates. Held for the
past five years at the ICA. Past exhibitors include David Hockney and Grayson Perry, and selectors have included Ryan Gander, Michael Landy, Sarah Lucas and Chris Ofili, to name a few.
The selection panel for 2015 will be Jurvin Anderson, Jessie Flood-Paddock and
Simon Starling.
Anonymity is maintained in the selection process, to try and avoid bias on education, age, and nationality etc.
As well as being exhibited, artists are given features on the website and are included in a printed catalogue.

2014 exhibitors included alumnus Melissa Kime

Royal Academy Summer Exhibition
Deadline: Friday 13 February 2015

A very large annual open-submission exhibition. The works are selected and hung by a panel of Royal Academicians. In recent years exhibitors have included Anselm Kiefer, Michael Landy, Tacita Dean, Gillian Wearing, Cathy de Monchaux, Callum Innes, Tomma Abts, Phyllida Barlow, Grayson Perry, Patrick George and Anish Kapoor.
Entry is by digital submission, with a second round of in-the-flesh selection.
Around 1,200 works are also exhibited each year and many are sold as footfall is excellent and the exhibition is high profile in the media. There are a number of prizes awarded.
The application fee is £25 per work.

Each year RDS alumni succeed in getting work into the show. 2014: Kristian Fletcher, Claire Price

New Studio Open Call
Deadline: Sunday 22 February 2015

A new initiative to offer an artist of any age and location an opportunity to present recent or as yet unrealized work. Submit proposals to present their work in this space for 1 month during 2015. NEW STUDIO is a small-scale exhibition space in East London founded by curator Poppy Bowers, ‘…rooted in the idea of the studio as a test-site and a place of experimental activity and making.’ Open to a wide range of activity including performance, site-specific installations and exhibitions. Selected proposals will be developed with curator Poppy Bowers and presented in NEW STUDIO at Frederick Terrace, Haggerston. Exhibition costs will be covered.
Selectors are Poppy Bowers (founder and Curator, NEW STUDIO) and Kirsty Ogg (Director, Bloomberg New Contemporaries).
Online application. Application fee of £6.

Jerwood Painting Fellowships
Deadline: 5pm, Monday 2 March 2015

Launched in 2010, the Jerwood Painting Fellowships are designed to provide time and critical support to promising emerging painters in the early stages of their professional practice. Three artists will be awarded a year of mentoring, a £10,000 bursary, and an exhibition at Jerwood Space in May 2016 which will then tour the UK.
You are eligible to enter if you are an ‘emerging painter’, a UK resident, and within the first 5 years of graduating or setting up your practice. Applicants must not have committed gallery representation, or have had or have planned a UK solo show. Applications welcome from artists working in any material or painting discipline.
Application fee of £10.

Deadline: Thursday 5th March 2015

A biennial open submission drawing exhibition in Bristol. 'It aims to raise the profile of drawing, exploring it as both an autonomous discipline and an interdisciplinary tool. The exhibition pushes the parameters of drawing by exploring the parallel language of multiple disciplines.' Prizes include £1500 travel bursary.

East London Painting Prize
Deadline: Midnight, Sunday 8 March 2015

The East London Painting Prize offers the winner £10,000  and a solo show at Nunnery Gallery. Created by The Legacy List and Bow Arts in 2014. Open to both established and emerging artists living or working in the east London boroughs of Hackney, Newham, Tower Hamlets, Havering, Waltham Forest, Barking and Dagenham and Redbridge.
The panel consists of  artist and painter Phoebe unwin (Wilkinson); editor of ArtReview, Oliver Basciano; Programme Director at the Zabludowicz Collection Elizabeth Neilson; founder of launchpad, Sarah Elson (Contemporary art Society & Bow Arts Trustee); winner of the East London Painting Prize 2014, Nathan Eastwood, and representative of the Goldhill Family, Michael Goldhill.
Shortlisted artists will take part in a group show.
Free to enter!

In 2014 the shortlist included alumni Anna Ilsley, Grant Foster and Ben Nathan.

New England Art Club
Deadline: 12pm, Friday 13 March 2015

Open to artists from the UK and EU. Paintings, drawings, pastels, original framed prints. No sculpture. ‘The NEAC seeks work which demonstrates excellence in both concept and draughtsmanship.’
Online pre-selection, with shortlist selection at the Mall Galleries in London.
Application fee of £15 per work.

Alumni exhibitors have included: David Caldwell, Daniel Shadbolt, Richard Burton, (awarded the Arts Club Prize in 2013), Ashton Marquis (awarded a NEAC scholarship in 2014).

NEAC The Haworth Prize
Deadline: 12pm, Friday 13 March 2015

This is a new prize of £4,000 for a north English landscape or cityscape by a young artist from the North of England. The prize forms part of the New England Art Club exhibition at the Mall Galleries, but you need to apply for it separately. Open to artists aged 35 or under, who are resident in the North of England in the following areas: Cumbria, Northumberland, Durham, Tyne and Wear, Yorkshire, Lancashire, Merseyside, Greater Manchester, Cheshire. Paintings, drawings or prints that depict the landscape of the towns of the North of England.
Online pre-selection, with shortlist selection at the Mall Galleries in London.
Application fee of £10 per work.

The Ruth Borchard Self-Portrait Prize
Deadline: Midday 29 May 2015

£10,000 biennial prize for self-portraits. Previous winners are Celia Paul, and RDS tutor Thomas Newbolt. Includes an exhibition of 100 shortlisted works at Piano Nobile Kings Place, London, and a number of purchase prizes. Open to 'any recognised medium including drawing, painting, watercolour, print, collage, photo-collage, mixed media, and low-relief sculpture and construction. Pure photography, stand-alone sculpture, and moving image works are not eligible for inclusion.' One entry per artist.
The judging panel consists of Jackie Wullschlager (Chief Art Critic, Financial Times), Charles Suamarez Smith CBE (Secretary and Chief Executive, Royal Academy of Arts), Laura Cumming (Art Critic, the Observer and author of A Face to the World), Simon Martin (Artistic Director, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester), Thomas Newbolt (Winner, Ruth Borchard Prize 2013), Dr Ruth Hallgarten (granddaughter of Ruth Borchard), and Dr Robert Travers (Director, Piano Nobile).
Online application.
Application fee of £20.

The SOLO Award 2015
Deadline: Midnight 31 May 2015

Win a solo exhibition at London Art Fair 2016, plus £1,000 in cash.
Open to contemporary UK-based artists of any age, working in any medium. No set theme - work should be representative of your practice.
Selection panel: Danielle Arnaud (Danielle Arnaud Contemporary Art), Fedja Klikovac (Handel Street Projects), Sarah Monk (Director London Art Fair), Amba Sayal-Bennett (winner 2014 SOLO Award); Panel chair: Chiara Williams (WW Contemporary Art)
Online application.
Application fee of £25.

The Gilchrist-Fisher Award         
Deadline: 1 June 2015

The Gilchrist-Fisher Award is a biennial prize established in 1987 and open to all artists under the age of thirty whose work deals with the broad theme of Landscape. Although originally instituted as a painting prize, work is now accepted in all media except video and installation. For 2016 the Trustees have decided to increase the prize to £6000 for the winner. In addition the work of the six short-listed finalists is exhibited at Rebecca Hossack Gallery in Central London. Previous winners of what the Financial Times has called 'this remarkable and admirable' prize include Peter Doig, Alasdair Wallace and Angela Hughes.

Exeter Contemporary Open
Deadline: Friday 12 June 2015

Annual open submission exhibition. £1,000 overall award, £500 additional award, £200 audience choice award, plus moving image award. Exeter Contemporary Open 2014 saw a selection panel including Independent Curator and Art Consultant, Ceri Hand, Turner Prize nominated artist David Shrigley and Phoenix Gallery Curator, Matt Burrows choose eight artists to exhibit their work.
Application fee of £20 (£15 for students) to submit up to 4 artworks.
Postal OR online application.

The 2014 Overall Winner was alumna Hannah Murgatroyd

Sunday Times Watercolour Competition
Deadline: 5pm Monday 15 June 2015

A prize for 'contemporary watercolours' created in the past three years. Maximum size 122cm. Open to all artists born or resident in the UK. 'The judges will be looking for work that makes the most imaginative or otherwise impressive use of a water based medium.' Approximately 100 works are selected for exhibition at the Mall Galleries, London. This then tours nationally.
£10,000 First Prize, £6,000 Second Prize, £1,500 Cityscape prize
Plus the winners get coverage in the Sunday Times Magazine and Website.
Online submission.
Entry fee of £15

2014 First Prize winner was alumna Kathryn Maple

Drey Contemporary Cheffins Art Prize
Deadline: 30 June 2015

A new art prize for young artists in East Anglia. Applicants must be under 30 years old and have a tangible link with East Anglia, born and brought up in East Anglia or have lived in East Anglia for at least the last five years. Prize categories include Junior Artist of the Year - over 18 (£1,000), and Junior Sculptor of the Year - over 18 (£1,000). Finalists will be exhibited in Cheffins Fine Art salerooms in Cambridge. Entry to the competition will give entrants automatic consideration for exhibiting in the Excellence of Youth 2015/16 exhibition.
Application fee of £10 per submission

Jerwood Drawing Prize
Deadline: You need to register online before 5pm 26 June 2015

The Jerwood Drawing Prize is the longest running annual open exhibition for drawing in the UK. An independent panel of three selectors will choose up to 70 drawings for an exhibition in the Jerwood Visual Arts programme at Jerwood Space, London and subsequent national tour. The prizes total £17,000. The panel for 2014 were Gavin Delahunty, Senior Curator of Contemporary Art, Dallas Museum, Dr Janet McKenzie, Author and Co-editor of Studio International, and Alison Wilding RA, Artist.

Kristian Fletcher, The Wrench, 2013 winner of the Student Award
The (many!) alumni who have been selected for the shortlist in the past include:
Kristian Fletcher (Student Award Winner), Kathryn Maple, Pippa Ridley, James Allen, Clara Medek, Amy Ison, Carl Randall, Perienne Christian, Clara Drummond, Hannah Murgatroyd, Max Naylor, Jonathan Farr, Rossen Daskalov & Coll McDonnel.

National Open Art Competition
Deadline: 12 July 2015

The National Open Art Competition is administrated by the Chichester Art Trust, a charity whose stated aim is ‘to provide a truly open and fair platform for all UK artists to exhibit, sell and promote their work through the medium of an annual National Open Art Competition with well-respected judges producing exhibitions which are shown in London, Chichester and other venues around the UK.’ They accept paintings, drawings, original prints, photography, wall hung installations, and computer generated art (eg. iPad).
The judges in 2014 were Norman Ackroyd CBE, RA, Vanessa Branson, Caroline Irby, Chris Orr MBE, RA.
Online application for the first round, original works for the second. Admission fee of £20 to submit one work. A further 3 works may be submitted in the next stage at an additional fee of £20 per work. They take 50% commission on sales.

Alumni and RDS Faculty have been selected in the past.
New Light Prize Exhibition
Deadline: July

The prize exhibition is open to all artists over the age of 18 with a connection to the North of England, whether through birth, current residence or degree/ postgraduate study. Artists are invited to submit as many works as they wish, with a maximum of three to be shortlisted. Entry is £15 for the first artwork, £30 for two and £10 for each subsequent work. Shortlisted works will be exhibited at the Bowes Museum in County Durham from 17 October 2015, followed by the Mercer Galley in Harrogate, with a selection subsequently being shown at Panter and Hall Fine Art in London. Prizes include the Valeria Sykes Award (£10,000) and the Patron’s Choice Award (£2,500). The judges for the 2015 prize exhibition are Norman Ackroyd CBE RA, artist; The Lord Crathorne KCVO, Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Arts & Heritage Group; Laura Gascoigne, art reviewer; Matthew Hall, founder and owner of Panter and Hall Fine Art; and Annette Petchey, CEO of New Light.
£15 per image, up to three allowed.
The Discerning Eye
Deadline: Summer

The Discerning Eye annual exhibition is an open entry show of small works held at the Mall Galleries in London. Open to artists either born or currently residing in the UK. Works must be for sale, and no more than 20 inches in any dimension. 2D and 3D works accepted. In 2014 selectors chose 431 works by 265 artists from the open submission, plus 226 works from invited artists. The selectors in 2014 were two artists, two collectors and two art critics.

The David Gluck Memorial Bursary
Deadline: Summer

Winning artist receives £1,500 and each runner up receives £150. Shortlisted works are exhibited at the Discerning Eye exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London. Awarded annually to an artist resident in the UK.
Online application with a short written proposal.
Application fee only £3.

Fraser Scarfe,Tree Study: Kensington Gardens, 2013 winner
2013 winner: Alumnus Fraser Scarfe
2008 winner: Alumnus Alexandra Blum
2003 winner: Alumnus Stuart Pearson Wright

Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers, Gwen May Award
Deadline: Winter

The Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers (RE) offers Associate Membership and £1,000 to two Printmaking Graduates each year. This entails the opportunity to participate in RE Exhibitions and the full rights of RE Associate Membership. To help support them they are also awarded £500 from the Gwen May Trust.

2014 recipients include: Alumnus Meg Buick

Threadneedle Prize
Deadline: July

An open-submission exhibition hosted in the Mall Galleries, the Threadneedle Prize claims that it ‘sets out to examine Figurative Art Today, producing a comprehensive current survey’.
£20,000 first prize and one-week exhibition. Five shortlisted artists receive £1,000, plus a further visitor’s choice prize of £10,000.
Online submission process.

2014 exhibition included: Alumni Claire Price and Laura Smith
2012 exhibition included: Alumnus Pippa Ridley

John Moores Painting Prize 
Deadline: tba

The John Moores biannual exhibition showcases the best new paintings produced in the UK today and attracts a broad spectrum of artists.  It markets itself as the UK’s biggest painting prize.
"The John Moores is one of the most prestigious art competitions in the UK and winning the Junior Prize in 1961 is one of the achievements of which I am most proud."  - Peter Blake.
Previous winners include Rose Wylie, RDS tutor Sarah Pickstone, Peter Doig, Euan Uglow, and David Hockney.
The work is selected anonymously from an open submission by the jury, who also award the main prizes. There is an entry fee of £25, which is non-refundable.
In 2014, 50 artists were selected from more than 2500 entrants. The first prize is £25,000.

Alumni who have been long-listed and exhibited in the John Moores include: Edward Coyle, Grant Foster and Sabrina Shah.

The Bulldog Portrait Painting Bursary
Deadline: tba

The bursary of £5,000 aims to develop the talent of an artist at an early stage in their career. The bursary also consists of a year of mentoring from Royal Society of Portrait Painters members, and the opportunity to exhibit the portraits made during the year. There is an open application, followed interviews for those shortlisted, where applicants present a portfolio and supporting statement.

Previous winners:
2010 Alumnus Clara Drummond
2009 Alumnus David Caldwell
2008 Alumnus Daniel Shadbolt

Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize
Deadline: Winter, tba

Annual open submission exhibition at the Mall Galleries, London. First prize of £15,000, five runner-up prizes of £1,500, young artist award of £2,500 (for an artist who is under 25 years of age), Brian Botting Prize for Figurative Drawing £5,000 (for an artist who is 30 years of age or under). Open to all UK artists making two-dimensional works in any painting or drawing media. Entry fee is £20 per art work (£8 for students). All works must be for sale, except commissioned portraits.

The London Open
Deadline: Winter, tba

The London Open is the Whitechapel Gallery’s open submission exhibition. It used to focus on east London artists, but since 2012 it is open to artists from all of London. Every work submitted is reviewed by Whitechapel Gallery curators and those shortlisted are judged by the panel. Previous exhibitors have included Antony Gormley, Cornelia Parker and Rachel Whiteread. The panel for 2015 were Angela de la Cruz, Nicoletta Fiorucci, Ben Luke and Jake Miller.

Derwent Art Prize
Deadline: 2016, tba

The Derwent Art Prize was established in 2013 by The Cumberland Pencil Company. It is open to works in pencil by British and international artists. Prizes in 2014 totalled £8,500.
The panel in 2014 was Yvonne Crossley (Director of the The Drawing Gallery, Shropshire); Fisun G√ľner (journalist and freelance visual arts writer); and Professor Stephen Farthing RA (artist and Rootstein Hopkins Research Chair of Drawing at the University of the Arts, London).
Selected works are exhibited at the Mall Galleries in London, before touring the UK. Artists can submit up to 6 pieces of work, created with any charcoal, pastel, graphite, water-soluble and coloured pencils on any 2 or 3 dimensional support. The maximum size of work is 182cms in its greatest dimension.

2014: Two works by alumnus Alison Boult.

International Print Biennale
Deadline: 2016, tba

Northern Print established the International Print Biennale in 2009 it has been repeated in 2011 and 2014. Top prize of £5,000. The scheme also hosts an open exhibition that takes place across multiple venues in Newcastle and Gateshead. Eligibility is a loose interpretation of ‘all artists whose work encounters print’. No restriction on nationality. The panel in 2014 comprised Stephen Coppel, Modern Prints and Drawings, British Museum; David Nash RA, artist; and Susan Tallman, Editor–in-Chief, Art in Print, Chicago, USA.
Online entry form, including CV and supporting statement. Around 30 artists are selected. Some artists may be required to supply additional information or in some cases actual work for viewing prior to selection.
It costs £25 to enter per artist, for which you can submit a maximum of 10 works.

Royal West of England Academy Open Exhibition
Deadline: Summer

Open submission exhibition in Bristol.

2014 Moving Image Prize won by alumnus Jonathan Farr

Exeter Contemporary Open
Deadline: tba

Open submission exhibition Exeter.

2014 Overall Winner: alumnus Hannah Murgatroyd

The John Ruskin Prize
Deadline: tba

Organised by the Big Draw, this prize is open to all artists working in the UK. It aims to uphold Ruskin’s belief that drawing helps us see the world more clearly and be more aware of its fragility. The Prize allows us to promote and give exposure to the work of emerging artists using a wide range of media and techniques. The winning artist is awarded £1,000 to help further their practice and all shortlisted artists are offered a place in an exhibition at a high profile public gallery or museum.